Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Bonus Time for Illegal Beliefs

Jacob Sullum at Reason Online writes about how the new hate crimes legislation, tacked onto a defense spending bill by Democrats, punishes people for their beliefs and chills free speech.

He begins by talking about the two people for whom the legislation is named and talks about what they have in common. Including that their killers were arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison or death, all without the benefit of hate crime laws, state or federal (emphasis mine).

He considers a hypothetical crime against himself:

"If someone hits me in California with a baseball bat made in Kentucky, that is not a federal crime. But if he does exactly the same thing while calling me a “dirty kike,” it is. No doubt the prosecutor also would deem it relevant that my attacker owned a dog-eared copy of Mein Kampf and belonged to a neo-Nazi group.

"Consider the impact of federalizing this crime. In California the maximum sentence for assault with a deadly weapon is four years. The state’s hate crime statute could extend that sentence by up to three years, for a total of seven. By contrast, the maximum sentence under the new federal law is 10 years. Hence my assailant could serve more time for his anti-Semitism than he does for his violence."

Not to mention that if the assailant is found not guilty in state courts, he can be tried again in federal court under this legislation. It's not considered double jeopardy; it's called dual sovereignty.

You can find the legislation here.

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